The popular belief that some jobs or vocations are not for women is being controverted in Abuja . For Miss Bassey Margaret, both men and women are created equal by God in terms of skill acquisition.
She may not be wrong. Margaret is an automobile repairer. The 23-year-old from Ikpo-asutan, Akwa Ibom State and the last child of three girls, said she did not deliberately set out to train as an automobile repairer.
Due to her financially challenged background, she took the available option presented by her uncle and enrolled in what she called Nigeria Opportunity Industrialization Company, Lagos, a place where she made up her mind to learn automobile repairs after oscillating between learning what was meant for women vis-a-vis hair dressing, tailoring, beads-making etc and taking the path of men.
After spending a year and six months of rigorous training to perfect her craft, she has been in the business of repairing cars.
Upon arriving Abuja, she had her own portion of discrimination whenever she introduced herself as a mechanic. Even another uncle doubted her competence. Nevertheless, some people, especially the male folks, took her seriously. As luck would have it, Margaret got a job at a mechanic shop at Lokogoma, around airport road. Before getting the job, her boss gave her a rather funny test.
Hear her: “When I went to seek employment, my boss surveyed me; and told me to stretch and fold my hands. He looked at them and told me to start working the next day.
“Out of curiosity, I asked him what that meant. He told me that if he didn’t find scars, on them that means I was not a mechanic. According to him, mechanics were synonymous with injuries considering the nature of the work.”
Of course, one wouldn’t expect the job to be coaster-roller ride for her. She had her own share of discrimination form the beginning but as time went, everybody started associating and supporting her, because of competence.
Another factor that motivated her was how cars move.
To her, it was surprising. Even though her salary is N30, 000, the determination to excel and carve a niche also motivates her. When asked if she would love her children to toe her path, she said: “I won’t discourage them. It takes determination, patience and God’s grace to excel.”
She has resolved to own a workshop someday, at least, to train others. I booked this interview for 10am but I ended up interviewing her at 4:20pm seeing the influx of customers. As she was up and doing even when I finally got her attention, she was still giving directives to apprentices. Most customers prefer her to fix their cars.
Paul Onenu, a customer, said whenever she fixes his car the problem stops
“I prefer her working for me because of her meticulousness and dedication,” he said.
Barong Joe said she was shocked upon sighting her.
“This is somebody who wants to make a difference. Her mates are idling away and looking for men to foot their bills, but here is a girl surpassing all expectations. Honestly, I am touched.”
What is left to be seen is if other girls would leave their comfort zone and hit the streets, just like Margaret.(Plusmila)